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BWW Interview: Philly's Tom and Kelly McCarthy's KING OF EAST JABIP

Actor Tom McCarthy, 80 and his daughter/ playwright Kelly, 50 seem to be getting their second wind as they both decide to revisit their creative talents by writing and starring in their very own first play," The King of East Jabip" which will premiere at the Eagle Theatre, Hammonton, NJ.

Thomas J. McCarthy was born on June 23, 1936 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. He is an actor, known for films such as Mannequin (1987), Fallen (1998) and Blow Out (1981) and received the 2003 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia. He was also awarded the Barrymore Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play in 1997 for playing Willy Loman in "Death of a Salesman" at Arden Theatre Company.

I caught up with the McCarthy family for more insight into what lead to this joint
venture. Tom's daughter explains the process. "My dad wanted me to write a play with a character that would be around his age," explained Kelly McCarthy. "He was interested in a character that he felt still had things in life he wanted to do and didn't want to give up just because he was older."

Tom McCarthy is no stranger to Philadelphia and its rich theater history. As Tom explained in an earlier interview; "You can live in Philadelphia, own your home, have your family. If you are working for one of the bigger theaters, you can do theater at night, make a decent living and be at home by 11 o'clock having a beer on your porch." - Philly Voice Interview.

According to Urban dictionary the term "East Jabip "is a slang word for a 'fictitious, inconveniently located place in the middle of nowhere'.

Please tell us why you call this piece "The King of East Jabip".

Kelly McCarthy: Dad's character is secure in his own home in Philly where he is the 'king' of his castle, so to speak. When his wife wants to move to a suburb he feels he will lose his 'kingly reign' of everything he's familiar with and is not ready for the uncertainty of all of this.

Kelly relates the writing process; "It started with me writing about a husband and a wife," said Kelly McCarthy. "At some point when I was writing it, I felt there was something wrong with this man and I didn't know what it was. There was some issue he was dealing with; it wasn't just that he felt he hadn't done enough in his life. I don't know how it evolved, but I realized the character had Alzheimer's. So, this is a man who still wants to do things and he's just found out that pretty soon he's going to have a hard time accomplishing some goals he always wanted. He has a sense of urgency."

Pati Buehler: Tom, at the young age of 80, how do you relate to the character you portray and do you dare I say, think about your own eventuality during this portrayal?

Tom McCarthy: My daughter wanted to write a play for me because she knows me better than almost anyone. She captures my personality in a way that made me feel very close to this character. Honestly, I'm too busy to ever think about my own eventuality!
McCarthy, from Sea Isle City, spent 15 years as a professional journalist in a career that began with the Main Line Times, covering Philadelphia's historic Main Line region. Following in his footsteps, Kelly began acting at age 4, building a resume that includes stage and television credits. She thought about writing a play many times, but never got around to doing it until her father got a grant for his daughter to write a play for him to act in. The play started out with just the husband and wife. It received a reading at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia where Kelly received important feedback. She let their advice sink in and took a break from the play for a while. When she returned to it, she heard the voice of a daughter for the first time. The third character helped her round out the story.

Eagle Theatre has helped assist Kelly McCarthy in several workshops, drafts, and staged readings of play, including a public reading at their New Works Development Series. The play will be presented September 9 to October 9 at the Eagle Theatre in Hammonton, NJ - the first world premiere production in the theatre's history! For tickets to The King of East Jabip visit or call 609.704.5012

Photos : Kelly & Tom McCarthy ( photo by Barbara McCarthy) , Tom McCarthy and Grace Gonglewski in Walnut Street's Production "The Girl With the Silver Eyes",(photo courtesy Kelly McCarthy) "King of East Jabip" photo courtesty of The Eagle Theatre

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From This Author Pati Buehler